October 17, 2018
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  • At its spring general membership meeting, the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce honored its nominees in the Small Business Administration’s annual Small Business Awards. Five of the GSPACC nominees will be honored as the state-level winners on June 7 at Martin’s West.
    Photo by Dylan Roche
    At its spring general membership meeting, the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce honored its nominees in the Small Business Administration’s annual Small Business Awards. Five of the GSPACC nominees will be honored as the state-level winners on June 7 at Martin’s West.

Severna Park Receives Recognition In Small Business Administration’s Annual Awards

Dylan Roche
View Bio
June 8, 2018

Whether they’re creating products that consumers didn’t even realize they needed, finding innovative ways to be environmentally friendly, or simply providing customer service so excellent that it outshines the convenience of Amazon, the businesspeople of Greater Severna Park and Arnold always find new ways to stand out.

Maybe that’s why they make their community proud every spring when the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce (GSPACC) puts forth a slate of nominees to the Maryland Small Business Administration (SBA) for its annual awards in 15 categories. From the nine businesses nominated by GSPACC in 2018, four will be recognized at the state level on Thursday, June 7, at a luncheon and awards ceremony held at Martin’s West in Woodlawn. In addition, all the nominees were recognized by their fellow chamber members, along with local elected officials, at the GSPACC general membership meeting on May 22.

“They are extremely hardworking, customer-service-oriented change agents,” said Liz League, CEO of the chamber, of this year’s nominees. “Every one of them, they have their fingers on the pulse of what the market wants and what people are looking for, and they adapt. They’re listening and watching the market, and they’re finding creative ways of doing business.”

The nine nominees from Severna Park and Arnold were selected at the close of 2017 by a committee made up of chamber members, who considered a list of criteria to choose the businesses that best fit those categories.

“These are folks who have successfully navigated the vicissitudes of owning a business. We all know what the statistics are — it’s very precarious, and a lot of businesses don’t succeed,” said Pam Negron of Farmers Insurance, who served on the nominating committee. “Not only are they people who fit the criteria, but they are people who stand out as having involvement in the chamber and the local community.”

This year, the local winners of the state-level award were:

Susan Gauthier, The Cottage

Entrepreneurial Success of the Year

Susan Gauthier has owned and operated The Cottage since 1986, continually reinventing her product offerings and atmosphere to keep up with the changing trends. In the time she has owned the business, she has doubled the space — first, upon purchasing it, and then again in 2017. She began with a handful of employees and today proudly employs more than 20 people. Although much retail shopping has transferred over to the online market, Gauthier has kept The Cottage strong as a brick-and-mortar store, and even had her most successful year ever in her business’ 30-year history in 2017. She has launched an e-commerce website and is focused on developing that aspect. Gauthier happily gives back to the community by assisting others through donations and support.

Whitney and Scott Kerridge, Admiral Cleaners

Family-Owned Business of the Year

An established business with an 85-year history, Admiral Cleaners is run today by founder Henry Worcester’s granddaughter and grandson-in-law Whitney and Scott Kerridge, who attribute the company’s success to management’s ability to adapt to changes in the marketplace. With the advent of shopping malls in the late 1950s, Worcester was one of the first in Anne Arundel County to convert from routes to package plants. He expanded stores and closed underperforming ones. The Kerridge family has carried on the tradition of modernization by adding routes to service neighborhoods, building a new main plant in Annapolis, creating a culture of strong customer service and implementing environmental initiatives. Among the many awards they have won is the governor’s Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes Marylanders who make their state a better place to live.

Kim Lank, Waly Wag

Home-Based Small Business of the Year

A self-described creative, science-loving, farm-raised woman/girl, Kim Lank loves to figure out solutions to everyday problems. Her motto is “If it can be envisioned, surely it can be done.” Lank studied science and worked in microbiology and infectious disease labs in Virginia, but she also has an artistic side, which she has exercised by painting murals and decorating venues for fundraisers. She combined her problem-solving and her creativity by developing the Waly Wag Dog Walk Bag, which has expandable sides to hold water bottles, treats, bagged waste and other items. The easy-care, water-resistant bags are patented and can be used in applications other than dog walking.

Louben Repke, Repke Fitness

Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year

Louben Repke started Repke Fitness four years ago, and in the beginning, sales were slow. Instead of taking out a loan, he learned how to market the business. He built his own website, learned about SEO, and networked. Repke’s method worked, and in its fourth year in business, his private personal training facility in Millersville has enjoyed a growth rate of 85 percent annually. Born in Haiti and adopted by a military family who brought him to the United States, Repke has worked to educate himself and make himself the best in his field while helping underprivileged youth. He is a registered nurse, and he emphasizes hiring trainers who are highly educated and experienced to help his clients with their health and weight concerns.

Andrew Hines, The Bank of Glen Burnie

Financial Services Champion of the Year

Andrew Harris joined the Bank of Glen Burnie in his current role as chief lending officer in January 2014, managing a staff of three commercial lenders, several consumer lenders, and approximately a dozen loan administration and operations personnel. Previously, he has worked for banks throughout the area. Before he entered the banking industry, Harris attended Cornell University under a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship, graduated in 1984 and was commissioned as an officer into the U.S. Navy. After completion of flight school, he flew carrier-based jet aircraft in a variety of assignments primarily in the Middle East. He continued in this role with a reserve squadron after leaving active duty until retiring from the inactive reserve in 2000.

Other honorees nominated by the chamber were:

Valerie McLaughlin, Qual-I-Tax

Accountant Advocate of the Year

Valerie McLaughlin founded her firm, Qual-I-Tax, when she was only 24 years old and has remained in business for 38 years. McLaughlin is set apart by her distinction as a certified QuickBooks pro adviser, a certified business profit consultant, and a member of the Maryland Society of Accountants, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the National Association of Tax Preparers, and the National Society of Tax Problem Solvers.

Steven Berger, Law Office of Steven Berger

Attorney Advocate of the Year

Steven Berger’s passion for estate planning came from his great-grandfather, who purchased North Dakota farmland in the 1930s. He remembers his great-grandmother living on the farm surrounded by her children’s farms. The farmland is still in the family. Berger credits his ability to relate to clients to his life experiences as a husband, father, grandfather, coach, church leader, distance runner, veteran and pilot. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his law degree from the University of Maryland.

Lisa Schneiderman, Lisa’s CakePops

Women-Owned Business of the Year

Lisa Schneiderman elevates the ordinary confection of a cake pop into something extraordinary, putting her own unique spin into making the popular dessert a high-end, edible work of art. She has donated cake pops for auctions, teacher appreciation lunches and events at the chamber. She recently began the move into online marketing with the motto “If you can dream it, we can theme it.”

Dr. Jessica Heard, Severna Park Veterinary Hospital

Small-Business Person of the Year

Dr. Jessica Heard developed her love for animals at the age of 13, when she volunteered at a local veterinary hospital. She went on to receive a scholarship to the College of Agriculture at Auburn University, where she enjoyed caring for the chickens, cows and horses. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in animal science with honors, she was admitted to Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Today, she serves the Severna Park community as a vet and business owner who ensures the wellness of animal family members. When her practice outgrew the small rented space where she started, she purchased and moved to a new location in the heart of Olde Severna Park. She sponsors numerous outreach programs for the SPCA and school groups.

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